*The following list is based solely on future fantasy value projected for each player during the prime years of their career. Defense is not taken into account whatsoever in this list. Comps are based on who a player will profile most comparable to during the prime years of their career in terms of fantasy value. Prospect value is based on a mix of future fantasy value plus how soon they will be contributing to fantasy teams.
1) Jonathan Singleton – The future 1B of the Houston Astros was acquired during the 2011 season in the Hunter Pence deal with the Phillies. Singleton had a stellar 2012 season which led to a Future’s Game selection and being named to Baseball America’s Minor League All-Star Team. He started the 2013 season by serving a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test, which seemed to affect his play after returning. Singleton’s 2013 campaign was not as impressive, batting .230 with 11 HR’s in 304 AB’s. The Astros are hoping this was simply a down year and expect him to be ready to take over as their starting 1B in the near future. His down year might result in a quick return to AAA to start the 2014 season, but Singleton will be on his way to Houston as soon as he is ready.
Future Fantasy Comp: Mark Teixeira
2) Dan Vogelbach – Another top prospect from the Cub’s deep farm system. Vogelbach spent the season playing for the Daytona Cubs in A-ball. This 20-year-old 1B is listed at 250 pounds, which will affect his mobility on defense and speed on the bases. That will all add up to the need to provide plenty of offense with the bat, which the Cubs expect him to do. When that time might come is not so clear, with Anthony Rizzo currently occupying 1B in Chicago. Once the Cub’s young wave of hitting prospects are ready to join the big league club, management will have to figure out who fits where. If the Cubs decide to go with Rizzo long-term, which seems likely as Rizzo is a favorite of Theo Epstein, Vogelbach could become expendable. But the Cubs won’t be faced with that decision for a while, as Vogelbach should need a few more years of minor league seasoning.
Future Fantasy Comp: Lance Berkman
3) Dominic Smith – This 18 year-old was the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the New York Mets. With the downfall of Ike Davis, the Mets are currently searching for their future 1B. The Mets believe they might have found what they are looking for in Smith. After signing, he batted .301 in 173 AB’s between 2 leagues. As with most prospects drafted out of high-school, there is still a lot of developing for this young 1B to do. But the left-handed prospect is already considered to have an outstanding bat with plus power and could possibly develop into a future All-Star. Smith is the farthest away from reaching the majors on this list, but if the development continues, it won’t be long before he ranks as the #1 1B prospect in baseball.
Future Fantasy Comp: Pre-concussion Justin Morneau
4) C.J. Cron – C.J. comes from a baseball family. His father, Chris Cron, played in the majors and is currently a coach in the Tiger’s minor league system. I have always been amazed by players with a family background in the game and how they tend to demonstrate an amazing baseball IQ. For that reason, they generally outperform what is expected of them. C.J. had a stellar 2012 campaign, amassing 27 HR’s and 127 RBI’s while batting .293. He then went on to hit .274 with 18 HR’s and 83 RBI’s in 2013, which was still good enough to earn a trip to the Future’s Game. This 23 year-old should be ready to make his major league debut shortly. Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo seem to be blocking Cron at the moment, but the next Pujol’s injury might be all it takes for this prospect to get the call.
Future Fantasy Comp: Mark Trumbo
5) Greg Bird – This New York Yankees prospect spent the 2013 season playing in the South Atlantic League for the Charleston RiverDogs. Bird hit .288 with 20 HR’s and 84 RBI’s while improving his prospect stock significantly. You will be hard pressed to find this left-handed bat on many 2013 prospect lists, but that should change going into the 2014 season. The Yankees do not tend to rush their prospects to the majors, and there is no reason to do so with Bird. Mark Teixeira is signed through the 2016 season, which would give the Yankees time to see what they have in Bird before deciding if he is ready to take over at 1B for the Bronx Bombers in 2017.
Future Fantasy Comp: Adam LaRoche